A man airlifted from Kabul with nothing but the clothing on his back, carried with him a bird with a broken wing.
This is a true story.
The bird would not have survived had the man not brought the bird with him, and so the bird boarded the flight cradled in the man’s hands.
I know nothing of the man. Not his story, nor his name. Or why he saved the bird. Or even if the bird is still alive.
But I know there is a man. And I know he brought a bird.
I couldn’t decide if I thought this to be ironic; a man with nothing carrying a broken bird onto an aircraft…ensuring the bird indeed flew once again, even if not by the power of its own wings.
Or if it were symbolically circular; a man carrying a bird that surely would have died, as he too was fleeing his own country, in fear for his own life. A Soldier flying a steel bird, carrying a fleeing man carrying a feathered bird. What a beautifully damned image.
Or if I found it to be a symbol of hope; that even those who had lost so much could still give life even to what is often deemed a relatively insignificant creature.
I settled on them all, because all were hopeful options in the end.
And for the most part, when I look at all the efforts that are being made following our exit from Afghanistan, I feel hope.
Don’t get my wrong, I can stand upon a very tall soapbox and profess far and wide about all the doom and gloom that exists in this world, and all the ways in which poor policy decisions in regards to Afghanistan fortify that list.
Sometimes these reasons even make me want to threaten to up and quit and ask my husband to join the civilian sector.
But I can also see first hand all of the people running in to help the more than one hundred thousand people who have been displaced. To help provide basic necessities. To provide food and water and shelter and sanitation.
Trust me, there’s a lot of them…I know them by name.
And all those reasons…the men and women I know by name and all the people they are helping…they outweigh all the righteous indignation I often feel when poor policy decisions are made, and the people I have come to know as my family shoulder the brunt of it.
And for all the apprehension we feel when we look at the hard things that we see in this world, a little hope can go a very long way.
So far in fact, that it might just save the people, and the birds too.
AND THE BEES…
Readers, you are amongst the reason I feel hope. Why? Because you too are the people running in. You have sent in hundreds of dollars, and it made hundreds of hijabs, panties, briefs, and undershirts available to the thousands of women, children, and men still seeking permanency.
So why hijabs and underpants?
Well once upon a time I did a ton of volunteer work with a women’s shelter in Seattle, and I learned that the single most needed item by the shelter was underwear. It turns out, we often forget to donate these intimate items. We do this because we don’t donate used underwear. We donate jeans that no longer fit and sweaters that went out of style, but we wear out underwear until they are no longer good to wear, much less donate. Because we don’t add them to the donate pile from the contents of our closets, they often aren’t made available to shelters. But this isn’t just the case for shelters, but also for the experience of children in foster care, and for…you guessed it…refugees.
But the issue does not lie merely in the fact that people need bloomers. These items are not only significant to their comprehensive health, but also play a crucial role in the physical and sexual safety of refugees.
Hijabs too? Yes hijabs too. This is where cultural understanding and nuance comes into play. We will talk about this.
The money you sent in was used to purchase these items as they were listed as severely lacking and in urgent need at the travelers camps.
And the fact that you made this possible gives me hope, like the man with the bird.
If you want to learn more about women and children’s comprehensive health issues as they relate to displacement, and how you can help all the new neighbors we will be gaining stateside, be sure to keep an eye out for the next podcast. I will be chatting with Sue Van Raes from Boulder Nutrition about this, and it’ll definitely be something to tune into.
Your Partner in Policy,